It may be cold outside, but the engagement sessions do not stop! Today on the blog we have Wendy and Todd, who are planning a California wedding for later this year. The big issue for this session was finding a venue with both indoor and outdoor photo locations. Since Todd is a Michigander and Wendy is a Californian and I’m a wimp in the cold, doing 2 hours outside with a wind chill of below zero was out of the question. We compromised with wandering around Saginaw Valley State University for the entire session. It was the perfect indoor/outdoor compromise. Enjoy!
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Hello everyone! I am blogging tonight in honor of this lovely snow coming down. . .that will inevitability melt on Wednesday then refreeze on Sunday (Yes folks, this is Michigan. Get over it!). Today, I am posting tips on making your winter wedding run as smoothly as possible. This post is based on my winter experiences, if you have anything to add please message me and I will happily update this post! The photos on this blog are from Stacey and Matt’s January 18 wedding.
1-Scheduling your day without accounting for a 5 pm sunset.
The biggest issue that seems to arise from late fall/winter weddings is timing. Everyone gets so used to summer that we forget the sun sets super early in the winter months. A great example of this are New Year Eve weekend weddings. The sun is completely set by 5 pm, so all outdoor photos need to be done by 4:45 or so. Don’t plan your start times and venues with the mindset of, we’ll just figure that out later. It just doesn’t work!
My suggestion to avoid this issue is to have an early ceremony or do a first look. Don’t be afraid to have a large gap between the ceremony and reception, your guests will find something to do! Finishing all of your ceremony venue events and arriving at your outdoor photo venue by 4 pm is a safe bet. A sample timeline would include:
2:40- Receiving Line
3:00- Formal family photos
3:45- Leave ceremony site
4:15- Bridal party photos
4:40- Newlywed session
5:15- Done with photos! 6:00- Dinner hour
Now, this timeline is extremely generalized. Many things will affect the time needed to complete photos. Large families, including divorced or separated parents will add additional time needed for formals. Late ceremony start times or long running service. Too many or uncooperative/intoxicated bridal party members. The list can go on forever. The best way to get a good idea of your specific wedding timing is to discuss it with your photographer. They should be able to walk you through their idea of a perfect winter day.
2- Hiring a photographer who does not have the proper equipment for indoor photos.
Michigan winters can be completely unpredictable. Having beautiful outdoor snow photos is not an easy task and can even sometimes be impossible. You really will not know what Mother Nature will bring until you wake up the morning of your wedding. Your photographer should be able to work around this, which means off camera lighting. A photographer who only works with a flash mounted on the top of their camera can be extremely limited while working inside. When using a lighting system, just about any space can be used for some amazing photos. Be sure to ask your photographer what their plan would be in case of bad weather. A little bit of off-camera lighting for ceremony formals can go a long way.
Before you book, be sure you look at weddings photographed in a similar venue as yours. If you are getting married in a church you should not be viewing a portfolio showing an outdoor wedding! In addition, be sure to look at an ENTIRE wedding, not just a portfolio consisting of the top photos from multiple weddings. A wedding photographer’s website is not enough research, be sure to ask them for an entire wedding of at least 300 photos to look at in the privacy of your own home.
3- Baby, it’s going to be cold outside!
That 1 hour outdoor photo session is a wonderful thing in the summer, however in the winter things can be a bit tricky. Usually, the bride is fine standing outside for photos, but the bridesmaids (as much as they put on a happy face) are not as thrilled. Plan accordingly! My suggestion is to spend some time on making sure everyone is warm and cute beforehand. Why not gift your girls cute mittens, scarfs, and even leggings? Sure personalized bags and custom jewelry can be cute, but how usable will it be for the future? Matching winter wear can add that unique touch that you might be looking for! Don’t forget about those legs! Leggings are easily taken off at the reception and can really help fight the winter chill during photo time.
Spend some time beforehand creating plan for keeping your bridal party warm during outdoor photos. I highly recommend a warm up vehicle! Find a bridal party member or close friend with a large vehicle, crank up the heat, and park it right behind the photographer. This system works great keeping bridal party members warm when they are not needed in a specific sets of photos. Not only is this useful in the winter, but it can help curb the cold complaints for late fall weddings as well.
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4- Unprepared venues/ photo locations.
Be sure to spend time scouting your venues when there is snow on the ground. That big tree covered in beautiful lights down by the water might be perfect for you, but can you physically reach it? Will the area around it be shoveled or completely covered in ice? How about your reception? Will those potential photo spots around the venue be easily accessible? Many brides forget about these small details and can but a damper on their ideal view of the wedding day.
Please, please, please, please, please bring proper footwear to walk in the snow. I come into each wedding with ideas of what I want to photograph, however if my bride is wearing the wrong footwear, I can’t exactly accomplish my goals. Cute shoes are not needed for the outdoor post ceremony session. Bring your biggest, warmest, sometimes ugliest boots! This will allow us to venture off of the shoveled sidewalks and out into the clean patches of snow.
5- Not going with the flow!
When it comes down to it, winter weddings are unique. They simply do not operate like a summer wedding, so do not expect them to. Things do not go as planned nor do they always run smoothly. My biggest advice for winter brides is to simply go with the flow. Anything can happen in the winter; the wind chill might be below zero outside, you might lose a bridesmaid along the way, the groomsmen might drive to the wrong venue (cough, cough), your dream photo spot might turn into a large pile of dirty snow overnight, the possibilities are endless. Just go with it and turn it into a story to tell your grandchildren in the future. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me!
Today I introduce to you Whitney and Michael. . .the session that almost didn’t happen! First off, I usually send my equipment in for service every November, but this year I was actually busy shooting. They literally emailed me as I was getting my shipping paperwork together. Second, Michigan weather can be a bit temperamental after Halloween. Luckily Whitney and Mike picked Tuesday the 19th for their photos, which turned out to be the last decent day for us weather wise!
With the weather a bit on the cool side, we decided to hang out around Frankenmuth for their session. This worked out great; brave the cold for a few shots then run inside to wander around the gift shops for a warm up. I really enjoyed working with these two. They have this wonderful shared sense of humor, which is a ton of fun. Check out Whitney’s amazing smile!
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Can you believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner? Yikes! Today I realized that it has been a whole TWO MONTHS since I posted anything new. Double yikes! I have missed quite a few sessions, so I am just going slowly catch up. My next break will be January-February, so just stick with me folks. (I am writing this at 6 am and have yet to go to bed, so please excuse any grammatical mistakes or over-usage of commas. Please feel free to point out my mistakes.)
Today I present to you Emily and Dan. I am not going to lie to you, I was super nervous to photograph these two. I have a standing rule that I do not accept ANY clients unless I meet with them face to face. Emily and Dan are full time graduate students down in the Ann Arbor area and really could not come up to meet with me. So, after a few months of communication, I decided to go ahead and accept their wedding. I am not sure why I was so nervous, they are absolutely amazing! The moment I cracked my first corny joke and they laughed WITH me instead of AT me, I knew I was home free.
I had the opportunity to photograph these two cool cats in good old Ypsi last weekend. The weather was beautiful (for a Michigan November) and still had some fall colors floating around. I actually fell in love with the area. So much so, I might consider EMU for grad school. Don’t worry folks, my MBA dream is many years away.
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I absolutely love when my couples invite me to their favorite locations for engagement photos! A few weeks back I had the chance to photograph Allison and Zack at the family farm in Crump. The weather was perfect and the colors were amazing! Thanks guys, I had a wonderful time. Can’t wait to photograph your June 2014 wedding!
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Had a wonderful time working with one of my favorite families for the second time! Jessica and Daniel were married on August 31, 2013 at the family farm located in Gladwin. I had a hard time picking photos for this blog! I want to keep the super cute ones a surprise for the newly weds (which should be up tomorrow, yey!).
Oh and one more time for Tammy. . .
LAST ONE AND DONE!!!
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